When I was thinking of a title for this blog post what came to mind was “10 ALL-TIME MUST READ BOOKS” but then dropped this idea as it would be injustice to the sea of books that I never read. Moreover, my inner-self would not be convinced either. Rather, I chose what strikes to my ethical being and value system. But trust me these books are like oxygen for those who wish to live a super-quality and fulfilling life unless you are lucky enough to get a true mentor or guru.
In this post I share list of 10 Books that I have read and they have helped bring enormous positive change in my life. When I say that, it refers to the way I feel about self, my attitude towards people and situations, the way I approach circumstances and so on. These are the books I carry with self wherever I go in the world and they have become my best of the best friends (of course after my wife and two little daughters! J).
I share this list with the hope that you would really benefit reading these books and that it would revolutionize your inner world bringing fabulous changes in your life for the good. In case you feel you should buy one of these books, you may click on the book title or the cover page image. As an affiliate to the book-seller site, I would get a tiny portion for promoting their website. Every single penny will go to Sanskriti Foundation which is working towards uplifting the quality of education in rural India.
Three years ago when I was leaving for America, this is the hand-written note my Father gifted to me. It proved to be one of the most precious gifts of my life. The note consisted of the 7-pointer Bhagvad-Gita summary. This triggered my enormous thirst for the knowledge of the self. Desperate to immerse myself in the spiritual wisdom, I came across this book by Swami Prabhupada who is also the founder Acharya of the International society for Krishna consciousness (ISKCON).
Bhagvad Gita has been recommended by the greatest of the greats for the depth of insights it provides about life, death and beyond. In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmological philosophy of the Bhagvad-Gita, in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seems puny and trivial”
Father of the Nation, Gandhi ji iterates “when doubts haunts me, when disappointments stare me in the face, and I see not one ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to Bhagvad Gita and find a verse to comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. Those who meditate on the Gita will derive fresh joy and new meanings from it every day.”
Bhagvad Gita is said to be the Jewel of India’s spiritual wisdom. It provides a definitive guide to the science of self-realization. Friends, this book is a marvel, an ocean of wisdom about life and beyond and a must read book for every individual on earth.
Dying to be me by Anita Moorjani is an awe-inspiring memoir of her own life-journey. Every single word Anita writes in this book connects so well with me. I feel as if Anita has expressed my ‘unexpressive-self’ so well. I feel very aligned with the concept of god and the dimensions of time and space beyond physical. Anita, who suffered terminal cancer (lymphoma stage 4B) and was on her death-bed, scripts about her journey back to life and the incredible experience, a true self-realization that she went through in between.
Anita mentions life is not supposed to be such a struggle, we have made it tough with our misplaced ideas, judgement about self and others, and our limiting beliefs. We have come on earth to feel good about ourselves and about life and just express ourselves and have fun with it.
Anita writes the greatest truths of the universe doesn’t lie outside, in the study of starts and planets, but they lie deep within us, in the magnificence of our heart, mind, and soul. Until we understand what is within, we cannot understand what is without.
He who has a way to live for can bear with almost any how. These words of Friedrich Nietzsche helped Victor Frankl to re-script his first book, the manuscript of which were taken and destroyed by the Nazis. In the book, Dr. Frankl shares his experiences when he along with his family members and several other innocent people were sent to a Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz at the outbreak of World War II. This ultimately led to develop his psychoanalytic method of Logo therapy.
Dr. Frankl discovered that the desire to find meaning in life is essential to human experience.
The book is divided into two parts; the first longer essay is titled “Experiences in a concentration camp”, the second, “Basic concepts of Logo therapy”. In Part 1 of the book, Dr. Frankl chronicles his personal experiences of the massive bloodbath and harrowing experiences, human suffering and the loss, inmates of the camp had. Part II of the book, Dr. Frankl introduces the theory of Logo therapy. The theory is housed on the belief that the desire for meaning in one’s life is more fundamental to the human experience even than the desire for pleasure or power.
The three basic principles of logo therapy include:
- Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable and direst one.
- Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life.
- We have the freedom to find meaning in what we do or what we experience and our approach towards life and circumstances when we are faced with the situation of unchangeable suffering.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull written by Richard Bach is a short story of an ambitious young seagull who is learning about life and flight. The story carries deep meaning about life, human exexistence and things beyond life.
I often feel the story so well resonates with me and am emotionally connected to it and the central character, Jonathan. Unlike other seagulls who care only about eating, Jonathon consistently pushes himself to fly at tremendous speeds, often stalling in midair but soon resuming his practice. Jonathon’s love for flying outcasts him from other seagulls and even his parents. In his journey to excellence in flying, he encounters rejections, countless failures, moments of self-doubt, pain, and is even outcast by his crew.
The Leader who had no title and Robin Sharma have a special corner in my heart. In fact, this is THE book that changed my life for the good. The leadership concepts, ideas, and anecdotes presented in the book simply blown away my mind with the impact each and every sentence in the book carries. It’s been over 4 years when I read this book for the first time and I keep re-visiting the book every 3 month.
Robin starts the book with Gandhi’s quote: “in a gentle way you can shake the world” and he did exactly the same. Robin conveys strong leadership concepts through his four massively engaging leadership conversations.
The leadership tools, techniques, principles are very real and has helped hundreds of thousands of people. Victims recite problems and leaders present solutions. Robin’s message is if each and every one of us step into our leadership best and lead without title, companies, communities and even entire country would transform for the better. Each of us are built to lead without title irrespective of whether we work in boardroom or mail-room. He challenges to apply the leadership principles written in this book that would eventually bring explosive results full of innovation, performance and customer loyalty. You would also notice profound improvement in your personal life and the way you show up in the world. Please remember:
- You need no title to become a leader.
- Turbulent times build great leaders.
- The deeper your relationship, the stronger your leadership.
- To be a great leader, first become a good person.
A timeless classic written by Napoleon Hill in early 20th century during the economic depression era.
He shares the ‘secret’ to riches is developing a high level of self-discipline and making an effort to know oneself. Anybody can become rich and/or powerful if they can conquer their personal limitations and weaknesses. In the book, Hill describes the 13 step towards riches with beautiful anecdotes and inspiration life stories of people who used the secret to build their empire of super-wealth, prosperity and power.
The first step towards riches is DESIRE. Every achievement no matter what must begin with an intense, burning desire along with definiteness of purpose. Second step toward riches is FAITH. An unshakable faith in yourself is a critical determinant in your journey to riches. Hill writes there are no limitations to the mind except those we acknowledge. Both poverty and riches are the offspring of thought. Subsequently, auto-suggestion, through which an individual feeds his sub-conscious mind; specialized knowledge of the field; the power of visualization, imagination; effective and organized planning; the ability to be decisive and decision making; power of persistence; the power of master mind alliance; understanding the mystery of sex transmutation; the subconscious mind; the brain; and outwitting the six ghosts of fear (poverty, fear, criticism, ill-health, loss of someone, old age, death). These are the 13 secret to riches in a nutshell.
The seven habits of highly effective people by Stephen R. Covey is an evergreen classic that has stood the test of time. The author presents a holistic, integrated, and principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems. With penetrating insights and pointed anecdotes, Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with transparency, genuinely, honesty, credibility, integrity and importantly human dignity. Covey defines habits as the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire. Knowledge refers to what to do and the why while skill is the how to do, and desire is the motivation, the want to do.
All the 7 habits presented are principle-based and hence referred as the habits of effectiveness providing long-term benefits. It also provides the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates. The seven habits are: 1. be pro-active 2. Begin with the end in mind 3. Put first things first 4. Think win-win 5. Seek first to understand and then to be understood 6. Synergize 7. Sharpen the saw.
In one of my previous assignments and that in a new higher role of responsibility, I struggled and had tough time meeting timelines. I felt overwhelmed with the volume of task and responsibility. It was then when a senior friend had suggested reading this book.
Getting things done by David Allen is said to be the bible of productivity. This book stands tall when it comes to imparting practical steps to boost your level of commitment and productivity. David suggests to clear your mind of the ‘To-Do’ lists by writing them on a piece of paper or a notepad. It helps to store things outside your mind and stay focused. Second step is to create a “next-actions” list for all your projects to avoid thinking in the moment. A further weekly review of everything helps to keep track of progress and actions to take and follow-ups to do.
There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or influence. Those who lead inspire us. Great Leaders inspires everyone to take action while others manipulate to motivate which is quite short lived.
Author Simon Sinek argues that all great organizations or legendary leaders have one thing in common and that is all of them start with a strong WHY power. They know why they do what they do. He introduces the ‘golden circle of why’ which is also known to be ‘the golden circle of human motivation’. Why does not refer to making money but the purpose, belief or cause that inspires you to do what you do.
The golden circle provides compelling evidence of how much more we can achieve by reminding ourselves to start everything we do by first asking why? Why are some people and organizations more inventive, pioneering, and successful than others and why are they able to repeat their success again and again.
My super-ignorance towards money, excessive spending habits and poor financial planning often led me in uncomfortable financial situation. In order to fancy my social initiatives and services, and above all live life on my own terms, I felt the need to an absolute financial freedom.
Although I had this book in my home library for several years, I had not read it. As a starting point, in order to grow my financial awareness, I started reading this book and came through concepts that literally aroused me from what I call my financial slumber.
In the book Robert shares his childhood upbringing and education in Hawaii. He brings forth the rich man thinking and mindset vs the poor man through two dads whom he calls the Rich Dad (His Friend’s Dad who is a financial genius and a smart investor) and poor dad (His biological dad who is hardworking and banks only on the job he has.)
Robert introduces the concept of real assets vs liabilities. Anything that brings money into your pocket (like stocks, bonds, investments) whereas Liability is anything that takes money out of your pocket (home Loans and EMIs, Car Loans, credit card debts, etc.). This is against the conventional thinking that home is usually an asset, well not really if you are undergoing financial havocs in your life paying large EMIs really struggling to pay out.
In these extremely uncertain economic times, higher education and job does not guarantee wealth. It is the application of proper financial knowledge that separates the wealthy from the rest. The book is a must read to grow your financial literacy. Kiosaki recommends to take a longer view of life. Rather than learning just for money and security. He suggests to work for learning and inventing new avenues of money. If you want to enhance your financial literacy, this is THE book to start with. Go get it. 🙂
Friends, these 10 books have changed my life for the good. I hope you will enjoy reading and importantly apply them in life. Happy reading!
Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.